2008 has been a year of losses for the fashion world: Yves Saint Laurent, pin-up Bettie Page, and model Ruslana Korshunova; countless magazines and stores go belly up; rumors of editorial shake-ups; the untimely end of Polaroid film. A last loss before beginning 2009: influential French designer Ted Lapidus died Monday, December 29, at the age of 79.
Lapidus opened his label in 1951, and was inaugurated into La Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture, the prestigious club that runs French high fashion, in 1963. But Lapidus preferred to design for the street and popularized the unisex look, appropriated by celebrity clients such as Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon. While he may not be a household name in the states, Lapidus' designs are definitive of the quirky chic look of the 60s and 70s. The French remember him very well: as President Nicolas Sarkozy said, Lapidus "democratized French elegance and classicism," and called him "the poet of French couture." The designer's son, Olivier, took over the label as designer in 1982.